Monday, April 16, 2012

New/Old Publication

The thing about poems is that they don't generally have a "sell-by" date. Unlike baked goods, like the cinnamon raisin bread I toasted this morning to eat with my yogurt, they keep quite well.
Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate riding the Frankford El in to college in Camden NJ (Rutgers Camden), I wrote a poem with a section for each stop between the start of the line and where I got off in town. This is in Philadelphia,PA, where I was born and grew up, but left at about age 20.
I polished this poem up and put it in my MA thesis and perhaps my MFA one too. Now it has been polished some more and published in a new Philadelphia journal, Northern Liberties Review. Here it is:

The Frankford Elevated Train

Robbi Nester

“I realized intuitively that the subway
was a harbinger of an entirely new
space-time relationship of the individual
and his environment.” Buckminster Fuller

Boarding, I am
full of voices,
turning in my seat
to watch the river,
the Delaware’s brown flow.

Two dull-lipped women
find a seat. They speak,
something muted
with movement.
Their hands
are spoked with veins.
At the river’s edge,
garbage trucks grind.

Dark labyrinths of windows,
one still face.
Courtyards, a church
and a school. Outside,
the sky closes,
a circular wave.

Tarred roofs.
Spires and antennae
rise in narrow rows.
Close enough to touch,
a fretwork of windows,
open or broken open,
the hum of someone
singing an old song.

York and Dauphin
The wires stretch like swimmers,
speak a secret tongue, black
and flat, crackling leaves.
Though it is summer,
the pool waits, an empty mouth.

Here a man boards, without eyes.
His face holds light.
Rain falls in flat wet drops.

The name I always
read wrong—Summering,
Somerfield, Something.

Banks on both sides.
I sit on the edge of my seat,
reading “Dr. Cool #1” on all the walls.
Someone beside me slips out.

Ginkos’ frilled leaves,
a thousand luna moths.

The day the train fell
it was here.
People clutched at legs,
falling poles.
One second before the ground,
the last smoke.

Now when I pass here,
the train shifts and slows.
On the track ahead, workers
wave us past.

Broken windows, stained
with soot. A steeple
with no bell. The train
screams by.

Margaret and Orthodox
I turn once more, eying
faces pressed like wings.

No wheels now.
The circling slatted door,
the stairs, then the street’s
long spiral, a track.


marly said...

Nothing like a long polish. Confetti, Robbi! Good job.

Robbi N. said...

A really long one! Thanks Marly.